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LXX                    RISE OF NADIR KULI                   347
out his scheme of usurping the crown. The leading
officials in Persia were invited to celebrate the No Ruz,
or "New Year's Day," on the plain of Moghan, a
celebrated pasture which stretches from the neighbour-
hood of Ardebil to the mouth of the Kur. Surrounded
with all the attributes of power, the great Conqueror
harangued the assembled dignitaries and exhorted them
to choose a worthy Shah from among the princes of
the blood. As h<^ anticipated, he was unanimously
requested to protect Persia and to ascend the vacant
throne. After refusing daily for a month, he permitted
himself at last to be persuaded by the prayers of the
assembly, and so ended the farce.1
The Abolition of the Shia Doctrines.—To his acceptance
of the throne was attached the stipulation that the Persian
nation should abandon the Shia heresy introduced by the
founder of the Safavi dynasty and return to orthodoxy.
In his rescript on the subject Nadir wrote : " Since the
Shia schism has prevailed, this land has been constantly
in disorder. Let us all become Sunnis and this will
cease. But, as every national religion should have a
head, let the holy Imam Jafar, who is of the family of
the Prophet and whom we all reverence, be our head*"
According to Hanway, the Chief Mujtahid arose and
advised Nadir to confine himself to ruling in temporal
matters ; but the sudden death of this dignitary warned
his fellow-doctors of law to refrain from opposition. The
change was therefore formally approved by the great
meeting, although inwardly it must have been detested
by the large majority of the Persians who were present
In order to make the new departure less unpalatable,
Nadir declared his fixed intention to add to the four
orthodox sects of the Sunnis—to wit, the Hanifites, the
Shafiites, the Malikites, and the Hanbalites—a fifth sect,
the Jafarites. By this fundamental change, for which at
most a formal assent was gained, Nadir doubtless hoped
to make the people of Persia forget the illustrious Safavi
dynasty ; perhaps also he dreamed of ruling over a united
1 Abraham of Crete, who was among the dignitaries bvited to the plain of Meghan,
gives a full account of the proceedings.